Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938

Featuring over 80 paintings, collages, drawings, and objects, along with a selection of photographs, periodicals, and early commercial work, this is the first major museum exhibition to focus exclusively on the breakthrough years of René Magritte, creator of some of the 20th century’s most extraordinary images. Beginning in 1926 and ending in 1938, the exhibition traces significant strategies and themes used by the artist during the most profoundly inventive and experimental period in his long, productive career.  Displacement, transformation, metamorphosis, and the “misnaming” of objects as well as the representation of visions seen in half-waking states are among Magritte’s key subjects and tactics during these seminal years.

The show begins in 1926 in Brussels, where Magritte created paintings and works on paper that first gained him recognition as a Surrealist and that aimed, in his words, to “challenge the real world.” It follows the artist to Paris in 1927, where he met Surrealists like André Breton, Salvador Dalí, and Joan Miró, and created his first word-image paintings. Returning to Brussels in 1930, Magritte continued his search for new forms of image making and in 1933 began a series of paintings that depicted disturbing and unexpected associations between objects. The exhibition concludes with a remarkable group of works Magritte made in London and in Brussels between 1937 and 1938, with a particular emphasis on the commissions he completed for the eccentric British collector Edward James. The exhibition’s chronological endpoint, 1938, marks both a historically and biographically significant moment: it was just before the outbreak of World War II and the year Magritte delivered an important retrospective account of what had made him a Surrealist painter.

Exhibition Opening

Event Details:


  • When: 

    Sunday, June 22, 2014

  • Where: 

    The Art Institute of Chicago
    111 South Michigan Avenue
    Regenstein Hall
    Chicago, IL

  • More information: 

    Event website.

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